Blasted traffic fines

I am sick and tired of local and regional government authorities taking advantage of us motorists to improve their balance books.

Major cities across Spain (how long before Mojácar or Albox twig onto the same scam? Vera has!) have told their local police to start cracking down on any innocent motorist who finds a space and leaves his / her car. €95 fine plus the tow truck and it’s not worth the hassle to appeal.

True story: The GF (who is Spanish), lived in Granada city centre for many years and still has a flat right in the centre. When up there a couple of months ago for the day, she parked in the same street she always has, only to find upon her return that her car was gone. Despite the fact that there were no changes to street signs, no yellow lines, nothing.

Upon inquiring politely at the nearest police station, she was made to wait over two hours before being attended to, and this only after she threw herself on the sympathy of a young Policia Local who realised that she needed her car to return home to Almería that night. He checked the computer and confirmed that no, her car hadn’t been stolen as she feared, it had been taken by the tow truck. As she pointed out, what if she had followed police advice and canceled her credit cards that were in the car?

The sympathetic police officer double checked and confirmed that, yes, the street -and indeed the whole area- was now “no parking” but that it seemed nobody had got around to changing the street signs. That doesn’t matter, it appears, if the road is deemed “no parking” you can’t park and unless there is a sign explicitly stating you can park there the matter is deemed closed.

95 parking fine to the town hall, reduced by 10% for paying on the first notice. A further €65 to the tow truck company to get her car out. The sympathetic Policia Local confirmed that the “highups” in Granada town hall had demanded a crack down on traffic offenses to raise a bit of cash and advised the GF to pay up because unless she wanted to take it to court – several years and the possibility of having to pay all costs if she lost – an appeal would just lose her her early payment discount.

And yes, Almería town hall is by all accounts doing the same thing. And now Murcia. Although Murcia has not just come up with the idea to fine anyone who impedes traffic (normally vagabonds who offer to wash your windscreen or sell you tissues at traffic lights) but will also fine anyone who is pressurized into using these services for “impeding the traffic flow”.

Now, parking fines correspond to the local town hall. They control parking areas and order their local police officers to enforce the rules. So a mayor who isn’t overly bothered about getting complaints from the neighbours can impose a few unfair parking rules and place a copper behind a bush to start issuing the fines.

But now, it appears that the Guardia are getting in on the act by giving the townhall “kickbacks” from all fines raised in their areas.

So whereas before if they had a crackdown in a certain area the neighbors would kick up a fuss with the mayor and he would ask them to move along, by handing back a certain amount of each fine to the local town hall they have ensured an easy revenue stream and no complaints from the local ayuntamiento.

If the local townhalls want to improve traffic flow and parking (and heavens above we all know most towns needs a bit more planning!) carry out a proper study that takes into account local business needs for parking. Clearly signpost and mark out areas. Don’t just decide to turn a road into “non parking” and take advantage of an inefficient appeal service to stop people complaining.

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